Saint Edmund, Downham Market, Norfolk

 Faith - to be a Christian


Salvador Dali 'Cristo de San Juan de la Cruz'

(Christ of St John of the Cross) 1951
Salvador Dali 'Cristo de San Juan de la Cruz' (Christ of St John of the Cross) 1951

What it means to be a Christian

Christian faith is about relationship.  Being a Christian is to live life in relationship with God through his Son Jesus Christ, in the power of the Holy Spirit, and in common with other Christians in the Church, seeking to deepen that relationship, and striving to live a life of service according to the example of Christ.

Being a Christian offers fellowship, belonging and joy! It makes us think about why we’re here, what’s important in life, the values we want to live by, and the kind of place we want the world to be – not just for ourselves, but for people everywhere.

The Faith of the Church, Summarised in the Nicene Creed

We believe in one God,
the Father, the Almighty,
maker of heaven and earth,
of all that is, seen and unseen.

We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ,
the only Son of God,
eternally begotten of the Father,
God from God,
Light from Light,
true God from true God,
begotten, not made,
of one Being with the Father;
through him all things were made.

For us and for our salvation
he came down from heaven,
was incarnate
from the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary
and was made man.
For our sake
he was crucified under Pontius Pilate;
he suffered death and was buried.
On the third day he rose again
in accordance with the Scriptures;
he ascended into heaven
and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again in glory
to judge the living and the dead,
and his kingdom will have no end.

We believe in the Holy Spirit,
the Lord, the giver of life,
who proceeds from the Father and the Son,
who with the Father and the Son
is worshipped and glorified,
who has spoken through the prophets.

We believe in
one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church.
We acknowledge one baptism
for the forgiveness of sins.
We look for the resurrection of the dead,
and the life of the world to come. Amen.

Icon depicting the Fathers of the First Ecumenical Council at Nicaea (AD 325) holding the Nicene Creed
Icon depicting the Fathers of the First Ecumenical Council at Nicaea (AD 325) holding the Nicene Creed

Creed is a word deriving from the Latin 'credo' - "I believe".

The Creeds are the Church's statement of the revealed Christian Faith.

The Church has three Creeds -

The Apostles' Creed (the earliest)
The Nicene Creed
The Athanasian Creed.

The Creed which is used most frequently, at the Eucharist (or Mass) on Sundays and greater Festivals is the Nicene Creed.

How did the Nicene Creed come about?

In the first three Christian centuries, the Church found herself in a hostile environment.  On the one hand, the Church grappled with the challenge of persecution, and relating the Gospel to a Graeco-Roman world.  And on the other hand, the Church was threatened not only by persecution, but also by erroneous ideas that were in conflict with the authentic Christian tradition, built on the Apostles, handed down from generation to generation.

In an attempt to heal widening rifts within the Church, in AD 325 the first Christian Roman Emperor, Constantine, convened the First Ecumenical Council of all the Bishops, at Nicaea.

To amplify the Apostles' Creed, a Creed reflecting the authentic Christian tradition was written, which was signed by almost all the Bishops of the Church.  To counter further erroneous teaching, the Nicene Creed was revised and expanded in AD 381 at a Second Ecumencial Council in Constantinople.

The Nicene Creed was incorprated into the Liturgy, so that the members of the Church can regularly affirm - and be affirmed in - the Faith of Christ, just as it was taught by the Apostles and early Church.